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Verdi: Aida (La Fura de Baus) [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region A & B]

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Hui He, Fabio Sartori
  • Format: Classical
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Bel Air
  • DVD Release Date: 5 May 2014
  • Run Time: 148 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00J587L6E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,847 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Since 1913 operatic performances have been given in the Arena of Verona in Summer, with more than 17,000 spectators enjoying the show every evening. 'Aida' is the most popular opera of Verona Festival, the only one performed every year. 'Aida', the masterpiece which gave life to the Opera Festival in the Arena 100 years ago, was presented in two different versions: a revival of the 1913, that was launched with Zenatello singing; and a new one from Catalan theatre group La Fura des Baus. La Fura opened the Centenary Festival: this version of 'Aida' was completely wacky: fire, inflatable sculptures, an aluminium pyramid assembled by crane, acrobats, mechanical camels, men in orange boiler suits with scarab beetle heads riding bumper cars, flooding the stage to make a lake inhabited by dancers dressed as crocodiles, solar panels... Under the night sky, it was a visual feast. This 'Aida' with its spectacular scenic techniques and technology, was directed by Carlus Padrissa and Àlex Ollé; choreography by Valentina Carrasco; set design Roland Olbeter; costume designer, Chu Uroz. The lighting is the work of Arena veteran, Paolo Mazzon. For Maestro Omer Meir Wellber this was his first time on the podium of the amphitheatre.

Review

'Ramfis and the King boom away convincingly. The orchestra and chorus sound good and, technically speaking, BelAir have done a brilliant job of capturing the surround sound, using all six speakers very impressively indeed.' --Simon Thompson, Music Web International, 8th January 2015

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I've come to the conclusion that Aida is among the top five operas most difficult to stage convincingly, and I have to say that I'm not at all convinced by this particular staging led of it by La Fura dels Baus. Although one might well think that this work lends itself to being staged in an outdoor amphitheatre, in this case, the vastness of the setting has succeeded merely in drowning out the performance with the 'grand march' episode being reduced to a farcical overstated understatement, simple because you can't produce joie de vivre from something that does not possess it in the first place. Although it takes some effort to kill the inspiration of Verdi's music, this productions comes close to doing just that.

Worst of all, none of the costumes are anything like those worn by the real ancient Egyptians and Aida's father, Amonasro, is dressed to look more like someone from the Arabian Nights than from Ethiopia. Fabio Sartori, although he has a good voice, is a very unconvincing Redarmes. Not only does he not have the appearance of a great military commander, he also cuts the kind of figure that one might well imagine any self-respecting woman would run a mile to avoid. The chemistry between him and Hui He as Aida is virtually non-existent. Hui He does her very best, but she needs a whole change of cast, not to mention venue, to back her up in order to engender the kind of support worthy of her genius.

With some operas changing costume to that of another era from the one in which the work is set is of little or no significance; but this kind of thing won't work with operas such as Aida Sadly, it's even worse when costumes, that purport to be authentic, are actually nothing like those worn by people in the period depicted, as is the case here.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This new production is designed by La Fura dels Baus. The arena at Verona is transformed into a huge desert, creating mechanical animals and manufacturing a solar power plant. Their experience in leading large-scale shows and opera enables them to create the Aida of the XXIst century, one that is also splendidly conducted by young talented conductor Omer Meir Wellber.
The cast is almost legendary, with Hui He in the title role and Fabio Satori as Radames. Their voices represent the most beautiful ones available for their respective roles today. In the mezzo-soprano role of Amneris, veteran dramatic soprano/mezzo-soprano Giovanna Casolla gives an unbelievably capable performance of the Egyptian princess. Well-nigh 70 years of age, this vocal wonder was already 68 years at the time of this performance (in 2013). She never looked one jot her age, both visually or vocally this would well have been a Verdian mezzo-soprano singing in the height of her powers. It is only when she and Hui He engage in duet that there is some difficulty in distinguishing the voices of the two ladies. This is an overlooked soprano assoluta, who miraculously preserves her voice well into late maturity.
Satori has a beautiful Verdian tenor voice, if not outright the most charismatic stage presence. His duets with Amneris and Aida are both highly convincing, the best voice of this genre since the great Carlo Bergonzi, if not the most stylish yet.
This is the third Aida DVD of Hui He that I own, and am in agreement with the lead reviewer that she is best here, both vocally and visually. The intonation has improved, and her stage presence greatly enhanced by a slight yet significant weight adjustment.
This is also my third Aida DVD of the wonderful Verdian baritone Ambrogio Maestri.
I got this new Aida for Satori, and am pleasantly surprised by the veteran Casolla, as well as the beautiful Hui He.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray
You don't often see a minimally dressed stage for a production of Aida, and you certainly won't be accustomed to see it at a production in the open air Arena di Verona, where Franco Zeffirelli's vast, flamboyant and extravagant staging is normally the house production. Minimalism isn't something you associate either with La Fura dels Baus, but when the camera sweeps over the walls of the ancient Roman arena, there's literally nothing on the stage but two narrow crane scaffolds. There may be something to be said for taking the focus away from the spectacle and giving more attention to the actual human dilemma in Aida, but Verdi's grand conception and the music he writes for Aida does indeed demand big gestures, and an audience expects to be treated to a spectacle for Aida in Verona.

La Fura dels Baus ' Aida isn't actually minimalist then, but just takes advantage of the natural environment. Nor, despite initial appearances, is the stage entirely bare for the whole performance, but accumulates props as the opera progresses. The ballets and processions all involve large numbers of supernumeraries walking through the audience with lighted football-sized globes and lining up in the upper tiers at the back of the amphitheatre. The Triumphal March involves an acrobat hanging on a cable, with mechanical elephants and camels marched across the stage, as well as troops in scarab buggies and a forklift truck carrying reflective silver cubes. The set designers are even able to cleverly recreate a stylised Nile riverbank for Act III. By the time we reach the conclusion there's a fully-fledged technologically-elaborate La Fura dels Baus set that hits the dramatic finale with all the force that an audience expects of this work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9158bb1c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90b007ec) out of 5 stars Successful Fura dels Baus reworking of Aida at Verona 7 Oct. 2014
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
You don't often see a minimally dressed stage for a production of Aida, and you certainly won't be accustomed to see it at a production in the open air Arena di Verona, where Franco Zeffirelli's vast, flamboyant and extravagant staging is normally the house production. Minimalism isn't something you associate either with La Fura dels Baus, but when the camera sweeps over the walls of the ancient Roman arena, there's literally nothing on the stage but two narrow crane scaffolds. There may be something to be said for taking the focus away from the spectacle and giving more attention to the actual human dilemma in Aida, but Verdi's grand conception and the music he writes for Aida does indeed demand big gestures, and an audience expects to be treated to a spectacle for Aida in Verona.

La Fura dels Baus ' Aida isn't actually minimalist then, but just takes advantage of the natural environment. Nor, despite initial appearances, is the stage entirely bare for the whole performance, but accumulates props as the opera progresses. The ballets and processions all involve large numbers of supernumeraries walking through the audience with lighted football-sized globes and lining up in the upper tiers at the back of the amphitheatre. The Triumphal March involves an acrobat hanging on a cable, with mechanical elephants and camels marched across the stage, as well as troops in scarab buggies and a forklift truck carrying reflective silver cubes. The set designers are even able to cleverly recreate a stylised Nile riverbank for Act III. By the time we reach the conclusion there's a fully-fledged technologically-elaborate La Fura dels Baus set that hits the dramatic finale with all the force that an audience expects of this work.

As such, the production design doesn't overwhelm the human characters at the heart of Aida, nor does it overwhelm the performers. Thankfully, the singing is also strong enough for there never be any danger of that happening. I've heard Hui He sing the role of Aida well before, but she is even stronger here. Her voice is fuller (at the cost perhaps of a little clarity of diction), with a soft legato that reaches those high-notes much more smoothly. I didn't see much of an emotional connection to the character in her performance, but it's sung well and clearly gets out there to the arena audience. Fabio Sartori's voice is also big enough if not terribly lyrical and his notes stray a little, but he's just about good enough for Radamès. I most enjoyed Giovanna Casolla's Amneris. She has a firm, commanding voice for the most part and manages to be suitably formidable while demonstrating a human side.

The open-air nature of the Arena di Verona doesn't give the best acoustics to judge the performance of the orchestra, but Omer Meir Wellber conducts the work well through all its dramatic points and show pieces. The visual and audio qualities of the video recording are also restricted somewhat by the venue, which means that the Blu-ray isn't always as clear as it might be as it tries to cope with the changing light conditions. An attempt to capture the full impact of a large-scale La Fura dels Baus production like this is also difficult, but the filming does reasonably well. The Blu-ray is BD25, region-freee, with subtitles in Italian, German, French, English and Spanish.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90b00840) out of 5 stars There aren't too many worthily performed 'Aidas'; this is one of them. 31 Oct. 2014
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This new production is designed by La Fura dels Baus. The arena at Verona is transformed into a huge desert, creating mechanical animals and manufacturing a solar power plant. Their experience in leading large-scale shows and opera enables them to create the Aida of the XXIst century, one that is also splendidly conducted by young talented conductor Omer Meir Wellber.
The cast is almost legendary, with Hui He in the title role and Fabio Satori as Radames. Their voices represent the most beautiful ones available for their respective roles today. In the mezzo-soprano role of Amneris, veteran dramatic soprano/mezzo-soprano Giovanna Casolla gives an unbelievably capable performance of the Egyptian princess. Well-nigh 70 years of age, this vocal wonder was already 68 years at the time of this performance (in 2013). She never looked one jot her age, both visually or vocally this would well have been a Verdian mezzo-soprano singing in the height of her powers. It is only when she and Hui He engage in duet that there is some difficulty in distinguishing the voices of the two ladies. This is an overlooked soprano assoluta, who miraculously preserves her voice well into late maturity.
Satori has a beautiful Verdian tenor voice, if not outright the most charismatic stage presence. His duets with Amneris and Aida are both highly convincing, the best voice of this genre since the great Carlo Bergonzi, if not the most stylish yet.
This is the third Aida DVD of Hui He that I own, and am in agreement with the lead reviewer that she is best here, both vocally and visually. The intonation has improved, and her stage presence greatly enhanced by a slight yet significant weight adjustment.
This is also my third Aida DVD of the wonderful Verdian baritone Ambrogio Maestri.
I got this new Aida for Satori, and am pleasantly surprised by the veteran Casolla, as well as the beautiful Hui He.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90b00c78) out of 5 stars There aren't too many worthily performed 'Aidas', and this is one of them. 27 Oct. 2014
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
This new production is designed by La Fura dels Baus. The arena at Verona is transformed into a huge desert, creating mechanical animals and manufacturing a solar power plant. Their experience in leading large-scale shows and opera enables them to create the Aida of the XXIst century, one that is also splendidly conducted by young talented conductor Omer Meir Wellber.
The cast is almost legendary, with Hui He in the title role and Fabio Satori as Radames. Their voices represent the most beautiful ones available for their respective roles today. In the mezzo-soprano role of Amneris, veteran dramatic soprano/mezzo-soprano Giovanna Casolla gives an unbelievably capable performance of the Egyptian princess. Well-nigh 70 years of age, this vocal wonder was already 68 years at the time of this performance (in 2013). She never looked one jot her age, both visually or vocally this would well have been a Verdian mezzo-soprano singing in the height of her powers. It is only when she and Hui He engage in duet that there is some difficulty in distinguishing the voices of the two ladies. This is an overlooked soprano assoluta, who miraculously preserves her voice well into late maturity.
Satori has a beautiful Verdian tenor voice, if not outright the most charismatic stage presence. His duets with Amneris and Aida are both highly convincing, the best voice of this genre since the great Carlo Bergonzi, if not the most stylish yet.
This is the third Aida DVD of Hui He that I own, and am in agreement with the lead reviewer that she is best here, both vocally and visually. The intonation has improved, and her stage presence greatly enhanced by a slight yet significant weight adjustment.
This is also my third Aida DVD of the wonderful Verdian baritone Ambrogio Maestri.
I got this new Aida for Satori, and am pleasantly surprised by the veteran Casolla, as well as the beautiful Hui He.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90b00bf4) out of 5 stars The Best Aida on DVD! 21 Aug. 2014
By Z. Anne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Love love love this Aida! Love the leading soprano He, who is in my opinion a even better Aida than Leontyne Price! (I came to this conclusion after seriously compared Aida's arias by the two.) Her extremely powerful yet beautiful voice, her in depth interpreting of the character and her singing technique, WOW! Can I give her an over 5 star rating?

The leading tenor Sartori is excellent too. He accomplished Celeste Aida and many high notes very well (not many tenors today could do that) and is fairly stable throughout entire performance.

The princess- mezzo soprano is also good with big powerful voice.

Imagine how enjoyable I am when listening to the duets and trios! And of course the arias!

And the choir, the orchestra, the conducting (with a rare fast stimulating tempo)... I love them all!

Finally I have to address how much I love the sets, costume designing and directing. They are so creative, imaginative, inspiring and beautiful! I especially enjoy ACT III. There's a canoe floating in river (with real water!), white crocodiles (with real people under them acting) crawling, huge palm leaves waving in wind and big bright moon hanging in sky- a kind of scene of dream, a beautiful exotic dream. They pair with the music seamlessly and together created a magic feeling. Then all of these are demolished by a group of miner-dressed soldiers who break in suddenly and take Radames in captivity... Beauty and peace are destroyed by ugliness, war and hatred, or dream is destroyed by cruel reality- I believe it is what the director wants to say.

There are a lot of other interesting contrasting designs here, such as traditional beautiful Egyptian costumes wore by women and modern war costumes by men. I believe it is meant to use the contrast to evoke audience's awareness of the horror of war and the tragedy caused by war.

In short, this is a production with depth and meanings and with great performance. It touches and inspires me. I am sure it will do the same to you.

Of course not everything is perfect. No production is perfect. For example, Amonasro is not as good as I would wish. And if only Radames is slimmer and Princess is younger... Nevertheless, this is my favorite Aida on DVD so far!
HASH(0x90b0100c) out of 5 stars Casolla Steals the Show 14 Jun. 2016
By Michelone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This Aida is most noteworthy for the Amneris of Giovanna Casolla....singing incredibly at age 71. She's really a soprano but manages all the low notes without forcing....as usual a great Amneris can easily outshine the Aida, in this case one who's merely adequate. The rest of the cast is fine and the production good; the conductor excellent
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